That was the word from Stephen Elop today at the launch of our Microsoft Online products. In a nutshell, this is Microsoft offering to host Exchange and SharePoint in our datacenters for customers of all sizes. Previously available only to big businesses like Phillips, Coca Cola and others with many thousands of users, the door as now open for business (in the US at least) for all businesses.
As Ina Fried reports, Elop told the crowd that Microsoft estimates that companies can save at least 10% (and up to 50%) by letting Microsoft run their messaging and collaboration software for them.
A bold claim but I believe him and have been doing some modeling of customer scenarios myself for the last few days and his claim stands up. Of course the proof will be in the eating but if anyone should know how to run these products efficiently I guess it should be us. I can’t grumble about either products internally – they’re business critical for us and rock solid.
Some of the customers quoted today were Lotus Notes users who have chosen to move to Exchange using this Online option and for those scenarios there are potential big savings in the move from capital expenditure on hardware (CAPEX) to operating expenditure on software and services (OPEX). You don’t need to know much about the current economic climate to know that is music to the finance directors ears. The Seattle Times quotes John Betz saying customers can save up to 50 percent if Microsoft Online replaces legacy systems, echoing what Elop said at the launch.
Personally I see huge potential for small and medium businesses who want to get the latest messaging and collaboration technology from Microsoft with as little pain as possible. They now have a new option to enable them to deploy the same technology that their enterprise brethren have – quickly and easily and with different payment options from subscription to a “top up” on existing licensing agreements. We also talked today of the so called “Deskless Worker Suite” that provides access to Exchange and SharePoint for $3 per user per month. For many industries that presents a real option to connect with a large part of their workforce who’ve never been connected before. Think of a postal company with thousands of postal staff who never had email and way to talk to the company before – they can now easily become part of the organizations’ email world in a very cost effective way.
Online is an area I have worked closely with for the last few years and today is a very big deal. It sees Microsoft put a firm foot in to to the services world, but also do something very few other vendors offer to customers – choice. On- premises is still a very valid approach for many customers but they now have a Microsoft hosted option and of course many Microsoft partner hosted options. Compare that to the SaaS vendors and you begin to see that our Software plus Services strategy is quite well thought out….and customer centric.
Congrats to the team who has worked long and hard behind this for several years. I hope they’re enjoying a well earned beer or two in San Francisco.
Onward and upwards…to the clouds.